We must introduce loan-forgiveness programs, tuition reduction and paid internships that would help make the teaching profession more attractive and financially feasible to those who want to teach.
AS Washington grapples with how to make our state’s education system rigorous and equitable, there’s one thing research tells us clearly: Great teaching matters.
Teaching quality is the single most important school-based factor influencing student achievement, and a great teacher can change the entire trajectory of a student’s life. We need teachers who can prepare our students to succeed in Washington’s knowledge-based economy and participate in a thriving civic democracy.
Consider research showing that if we place a student in a classroom with an above-average-performing teacher — rather than an average-performing teacher — for just one year, it improves achievement enough to increase lifetime earnings by more than $10,000.
LiveWire event: K-12 visions and outcomes
Join Mia Tuan and other education experts, advocates and policy makers on how to fix Washington’s K-12 public-education system.
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Multiplied by a class of 24, a single higher-performing teacher can generate more than $240,000 in additional lifetime earnings for their students every single year. With more than 1 million students in our public schools, raising the performance of every teacher in Washington could deliver more than $11 billion in additional lifetime earnings to our students, year after year.
Supporting great teaching is one of the smartest investments Washington can make to ensure our ability to innovate and prosper in the decades to come.”
That’s a life-changing impact, especially for the nearly half of our students living in or near poverty.
Supporting great teaching is one of the smartest investments Washington can make to ensure our ability to innovate and prosper in the decades to come. It’s past time to commit our resources to making great teaching available to all students.
While there are many things that will support advances in student learning embedded in McCleary and reforming how our state pays for public schools, there are two critical steps we must take. First, we need to invest in high-quality teacher education for the next generation of outstanding teachers. Second, we need to ensure every practicing teacher is provided meaningful professional development and growth.
High-quality teacher preparation embeds future educators in schools throughout their training. It places pre-service teachers in poverty-impacted, diverse schools where they can make meaningful connections with families and communities. It pairs these future educators with master teachers as they themselves learn to make learning come alive for all students.
Research demonstrates this kind of preparation produces high-quality teachers, but it requires support. Our schools and districts must have adequate resources to take on the work of mentoring and supporting pre-service teachers. We must introduce loan-forgiveness programs, tuition reduction and paid internships that would help make the teaching profession more attractive and financially feasible to those who want to teach.
Just as important, we must invest in the many passionate educators currently serving our students.
In the University of Washington’s professional-development partnerships with local school districts, we’ve seen a tremendous impact on student achievement when we emphasize continual growth and embed professional development in teachers’ daily work.
At Renton’s Lakeridge Elementary, for example, UW teacher-educators and Lakeridge staff created a partnership in response to the school’s federal designation as one of the persistently lowest-achieving schools in Washington state in 2010. A focus on adult learning and developing a culture of learning where teachers felt confident and supported paid off in higher-quality learning and improved test scores for students. In just three years, the percent of fifth-graders meeting math standards jumped from 20 percent to nearly 80 percent.
Ongoing professional development that gives teachers the time and space they need to elevate their practice is rare in our state’s schools today, however. We must give schools the resources they need to make teacher learning a priority, including instructional coaches, strong school leaders who support teacher learning, and time for teachers to work on their craft together. These are the ingredients that enable teachers to continually grow and make learning rigorous, authentic and fun.
As our state addresses the opportunity gaps that stack the deck against students, let’s keep our focus on the people who can make the biggest impact on their futures: the great teachers of today and tomorrow.